HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Authorities said counterfeit pharmaceuticals are a growing trend in the Pine Belt region. Leaders with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN) said they believe at least 10 deaths are related to the counterfeit pharmaceuticals and several other non-fatal overdoses. The fake pills include imitation Xanax, Percocet, and imitation generic oxycodone.
The pills are made from other chemicals and often laced with heroin, fentanyl or methamphetamine to give them more of an impact. When people buy black-market drugs, they’re taking them as if they’re taking prescription drugs, according to authorities. The impact of the drugs on their bodies cause an overdose.
Commissioner Sean Tindell, of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said the deaths are mostly seen in 18 to 25-year-olds. Some cases are also seen in older adults who have existing drug problems.
The department advised all medication should only be taken as prescribed by a licensed physician and when obtained from a licensed pharmacist. They warn street drugs present life threatening risks.
Currently, the department said it has shut down a pill press located in the Jackson area, but no arrests have been made. To report suspicious activity related to this crime, contact MBN at 1800-844-6272.